Positive Changes In The Workplace Essay

Positive Changes in the
Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work we go. So sang the charmingly
quirky dwarfs in Disney’s Snow White. In many ways they
stood for the hopes of mid-century Americans: Hold down a
secure job, produce your share of goods or products, do
what the boss says, go with the program, and earn enough to
support a comfortable lifestyle for yourself and your family.

Things haven’t really changed all that much–or have they?
Only a few of us are currently involved in any type of manual
labor or production. In fact, more than 80% of the workforce
is in a service position according to most of the information
we receive in our Human Resource office. In the past 100
years, the tools of the trade have changed dramatically. We’ve
gone from plows to assembly lines to computers as the
primary drivers of our livelihood. What about off to work we
go? All indicators point to an ever-increasing rise in
telecommuting, home offices, and part-time and just-in-time or
temporary workers, spurred on in large part by the
increasingly transnational nature of corporations. So this place
called work is rapidly becoming any place at all. Changes like
this are happening in all aspects of the workplace and can be
attributed too much of the stress that employees are feeling
today. I have noticed that many employees are complaining
that the high stress of their jobs is causing employee burnout
at a very young age, but all of this change is not as
catastrophic as it may seem. There are many positive effects
to be garnished from the inevitable changes in the workplace.

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This paper is going to look a four of these positive results
from change. 1. Changes allow for freedom on new ideas. 2.

Changes meet the Generation X’s needs for a constant
variation in the workplace. 3. Employees work better with a
little stress (Fight or Flight). 4. Done right, involving
employees in change can create a feeling of ownership.

Changes allow for freedom on new ideas. Without changes in
the workplace you are stifled with the age old traditions. If
employees are seeing new ideas tried out regularly, they will in
turn, try to provide new ideas in the workplace. A top
executive, interviewed for the book The Leadership Challenge
states that If organizations & societies are to make progress,
then, leaders must be able to detect when routines are
becoming dysfunctional. They must be able to see when
routines are smothering creative planning and blocking
necessary advancements.(Kouzes, Posner 47) This was a
major problem when I was working for the newspaper. We
had some long time employees, many who dated back to the
hand set press days. These employees were very resistant to
some of the methods we needed to change to make us
competitive in the marketplace. Many of the old routines that
were established eons ago were still in effect because it was
the newspaper way with unnecessary deadlines and extra
print runs. Those ways needed to change to bring in the new
technology needed to run a competitive newspaper in today’s
society. We needed to look at the demands of the advertiser
and reporter which was our ability to react at a moments
notice without unnecessary delays. Once we were able to
break the old traditions, the new technology became accepted
and the old seemed cumbersome and tiresome. Some change
is inevitable, a totally stable company can cause you to
become stagnant in you working environment. You never get a
chance to shine with your ideas. The only direction up in a
traditionally stable company can be a pre-determined route
that you will need everybody’s consent to take. If the
company had been totally stable, I might have stayed a vice
president or who knows what. I just wouldn’t have had the
opportunities that I had states one top executive interviewed
in the book Smash the Pyramid (Doyle, Perking 234).

Everyone wants to protect his/her status in the company and
change can challenge this on a regular basis. But, James
Kouzes, author of The Leadership Challenge recommends that
if leaders do not challenge the process any system will
unconsciously conspire to maintain the status quo and prevent
change. This change may be the one thing that stagnates the
company and will eventually cause the company to loose
ground in this world. Embrace change and it will become a
positive force for you in your travels to the top of your field.

You’ve heard that every problem is an opportunity, and as
tough times begin to close in, you can probably spot several
ways to do something good for your company. So, let the
tough times roll? and the new ideas will follow. Changes
meet the Generation X’s needs for a constant variation. We
have a new type of work force developing in the horizon. The
schools are experiencing trying to teach these future
employees now. These youth are going to require a different
workplace than what our parents had. They will not be able to
sit and perform the same task over and over for eight hours a
day because since birth, they have been constantly stimulated
with all of the high technical devices available in the modern
day world. These people have been stimulated with everything
from dolls that read to you to Nintendo games that give you
virtual reality. The teachers of today are now learning how to
train these future employees and we are going to have to
change our workplace to meet their needs. Students, however,
conditioned by years of television, interactive video games
and computers, are looking for something other than continual
discourse from the teacher. They want to manipulate the
joysticks, move the mice, and be on-line with their
educational process. In other words, they want to be active
participants, not passive observers, in their learning. The
situation has prompted a call to action by the United States
Secretary of Education, R. Riley: We cannot sit still rooted
to the chalk board and pencil at a time when a 12-year-old can
literally touch his or her mouse pad and travel from web site to
web site around the world (Riley, 1998) Generation X’ers
take longer to make job choices. They look upon a job as
temporary instead of as a career, partly because they want to
keep their options open. They are always looking to jump ship
when they can upgrade their situation. They will often leave a
job at the hint of a better position(Losyk 29-44). States Bob
Losyk in his analysis of this new generation. He makes a point
of noting that this generation does not expect the loyalties
from the companies, with their downsizing, and in turn are not
near as loyal to their place of employment. To attract these
employees and provide a beneficial work place environment
for them many companies are changing their workplace
strategies. Where once you were encouraged to bring you
children on a specific day to see where you work, then they
came up with the idea of workplace child-care, now the
employees are being allowed to bring their pets with them to
work. These new Generation X’ers are going to change the
face of the workplace creating an environment of excitement
and innovation. As long as our economy continues to improve
this generation will provide us with many new looks to the old
standby workplace. People work better with a little stress
(Fight or Flight) When humans first appeared on this world,
they needed a little stress to survive, to kill the mastodons and
live for another season. We really have not changed all that
much. Today’s workplace requires us to give our best as often
as possible. James Kouzes feels that Opportunities to
challenge the status quo and introduce change opens the
doors to doing one’s best. Challenge is the motivation
environment for excellence (Kouzes, Posner 39). The only
exception that needs to be brought out by that is that we need
to give people a change to get used to the changes before we
introduce more. The major reason for stress is when you do
not allow for the adjustment period in-between major changes.

Stress has gotten a bad name. Stress of all kinds is good
—– physical, emotional and mental. It’s strengthening. What
troubles us is the absence of recovery strategies need to
balance the stress. by James Loehr, sports psychologist (as
quoted in Fortune, 11/28/95) Many times when people feel
threatened by change they may be willing to take on more
risks to improve their status within the company. Geoffrey
Colvin, author for Fortune magazine says One great thing
about difficult times is that they make our hard-wiring work in
our favor. People really do feel threatened. That makes this a
good time to launch gambles you believe in. It also means that
others in the organization, feeling threatened, are more likely to
think up risky, innovative moves that could be worthwhile, so
it’s important to make sure you find out about them. And
remember that those above you also feel threatened, so now
could be an excellent time to propose that crazy idea you just
know would succeed. Your audience is receptive.(Colvin
243) If you have built trust in your ideas you can create a
positive situation for both you and your boss with the
successful ideas you may develop. We must be careful not to
bombard our employees with the catch phrases of the day.

Many top managers are looking for a cure. They are
embracing the latest concepts to improve their productivity.

These concepts are in abundance in today’s society. It
appears that anyone can come up with an idea that will work
for someone. You can have everything from Total Quality
Management (TQM) to Work Focus Groups (WFG) to Just
in Time (JIT) processing. In the article TQM reduces
problems and stress by James Montague you are given the
theory behind TQM. Simply put, TQM is focused on
understanding customer requirements and meeting their needs
every time.(Montague 16) Like that is a reality. It may be
something to strive for, but the reality is that you are not going
to be able to do this all of the time. The problem with these is
not with the concepts, because many of them are basically the
same but with the adoption of too many of these processes in
the workplace. Employees who have gone through many of
these processes just look at the new one and assume that they
can talk the talk and then go back to the way things were. The
company I work for, Appleton, has joined in a joint venture
with another company. This company has placed most of
their managers in the upper management positions of the new
joint venture. They are trying to instill their way of
management in the new company. This has created a feeling of
chaos in our local plant. When the employees have a feeling of
unrest, they will be more accepting of the new ideas that this
joint venture has fostered. It will be an effective way of
developing acceptance with little or no resistance to the new
ways. Changes in the workplace can bring out the best in the
employee if it is introduced correctly and with the proper
focus. Involving employees in change can create a feeling of
ownership. If the employees are involved in the changes and
are made aware of the need for these changes they will be
more likely to accept these changes. The companies are going
to have to set out company goals and organize people around
those goals. They will have to have a team for every business
process. Formal, narrow jobs will have to be replaced by
fluid, versatile, flexible roles on a team declares Marc J.

Wallace Jr., cofounder and partner of the Center for
Workforce Effectiveness. Most companies are developing this
form of team work as a vast array of information just waiting
to be tapped. These new and innovative work environments
are allowing employees to become more flexible in their work
environment. This allows employees to take control over the
total outcome of the product they are producing. Kenan
Jarboe and Joel Yudken, authors of an article, Time to Get
Serious About Workplace Change, from Science and
Technology magazine, feel that a high-performance work
system will seek to enhance organizational performance by
combining innovative work and management practices with
reorganized work flows, advanced information systems, and
new technologies. Most important, it builds on and develops
the skills and abilities of frontline workers to achieve gains in
speed, flexibility, productivity, and customer satisfaction.

Keeping top performers happy can be a full-time job, but in
this economy with 1-2% unemployment rate, it’s worth the
effort. Just ask Walter Noot, who is head of production for
Viewpoint DataLabs International, a company in Salt Lake
City that makes 3-D models and textures for film production
houses, video game companies, and car manufacturers. He
compares the modelers and digitizers on his team to sports
stars: high performers who sulk if they suspect they’re getting
less than they deserve. Noot decided to do something radical.

Now no one in his group gets a salary. They’re still full-time
Viewpoint employees, with benefits, but they’re paid as if they
were contract workers. Every project’s team splits 26% of the
money Viewpoint expects to receive from a client. Almost
overnight salaries have jumped 60% to 70%. But productivity
has almost doubled. Where the group used to have set hours,
they now work when they please. One fellow works 24-36-
hour marathons, keeping a pillow and blanket under his desk
for catnaps. Some people work only at night. Whatever.

Now life is bliss,: says Noot. It has totally changed attitudes,
I never hear complaints. (Munk 62-6+-) Noot has learned, as
other managers are learning, we need to give the employees
control over their destiny and then the changes that go into
effect will come from them and they will accept them and even
sometimes embrace them.
Works Sited Doyle, Willima and Perkins, Willima Smash the
Pyramid Warner Books 1994 Colvin, Geoffrey. Let the tough
times roll!. Fortune. , v. 138 no12 (Dec. 21 ’98) p. 243-4
Jarboe, Kenan Patrick.; Yudken, Joel Time to get serious
about workplace change. Science and Technology. , v. 13
(Summer ’97) p. 65-7 Kouzes, James M. and Posner, Barry Z.

The Leadership Challenge Jossey-Bass Publishers 1987
Losyk, Bob Generation X: what they think and what they plan
to do., The Futurist, V. 31 Mar./Apr. ’97 p. 29-44 Montague,
James TQM reduces problems and stress. Business Credit.,
v. 97 (Feb. ’95) p. 16 Munk, Nina The new organization man.,
Fortune. v. 137 Mr. 16 ’98 p. 62-6+ Riley, R., (1998, March).

Education first: Building America’s future. Vital Speeches of
the Day, 64 (11), 322-327. Verespej, Michael A. The old
workforce won’t work: technology isn’t the only thing to
change. Industry Week, v. 247 no17 (Sept. 21 ’98) p. 53-4
Computers Essays


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